Kendo – a Japanese form of fencing with two-handed bamboo swords, originally developed as a safe form of sword training for samurai. – Google

When I found out LEGO had Kendo figures, I was pretty damn excited! My hobby! In LEGO! Awesome.

For a toy photographer this was doubly exciting as I’m quite often sat at the sidelines in tournaments and can get a few toy photos in amongst the normal fighting ones.

LEGO fencer at a Kendo tournament

Am I in the right place?

I’m away this coming weekend at a grading (yikes!) so thought it would be a great time to share a little bit about this, and take a look at the LEGO Kendo figures from the viewpoint of someone who does Kendo and toy photography!

So, how do LEGO Kendoka match up to the real thing?

LEGO kendo figure in Somerset

Kendo in Somerset. Weather may vary.

Overall, not too bad. Especially on the Kai figure and the series 15 minifigure, the detailing is great! There’s a lot of interesting texture to most of the bogu (armour) and LEGO have attempted to mimic this on both the physical details and the printing. In the series 15 figure, the colours are also spot on. Everything we generally wear is dyed indigo blue! When you get new gear, your skin starts to turn blue from the dye! Can be a right pain to clean off!

LEGO Kendo figures fighting at a competition

Fight time!

A few big issues spring to mind. Things that only someone who knows a bit about Kendo would find frustrating when trying to photography Kendo LEGO figures!

  1. In Kendo we generally hold the Shinai (bamboo practice sword) with two hands, something that is impossible with a LEGO figure. The figures also often come with two swords. Kendo never has a stance with two full sized Shinai (although there is a style called Nito in which a long Shinai and short Shinai are used). The change from swords to sticks for Kai was a good choice, as Kendo Shinai do not look like pointy swords!
  2. It’s really hard to mimic the footwork of Kendo with a LEGO figure. There’s not enough flexibility to get this quite right. Would need a few more joints!
  3. When the LEGO figures have a  (the chest armour), they always seem to come with shoulder pads. In reality, most  are attached with himo (string), such as is printed on the series 15 figure. Any shoulder protection would come from the men! It would be nice to see LEGO come out with a chest plate that more accurately mimics this.
LEGO figure in seiza

Sitting in seiza – tricky when your legs don’t bend properly!

All this said, it’s great fun to have tiny Kendoka to play with. It adds a bit of fun to what can be long days sitting court-side, and it’s always fun to try and push the figures to do better!

Kendo LEGO

After a hard session, always drink water.

Do you have any hobbies that have been represented with LEGO (or other toys)? How do they match up to your real-life experience?

  • Lizzi